Welcome to my Friday Foodie series where I get to feature my favourite foodies and wellness experts.
This week I am featuring Leandra Brady-Walker from Cosmopolitan Hippy. Leandra is a chiropractor, speaker, author and above all a very inspirational women.
I hope you enjoy the interview.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, what you do and what inspired you to lead a healthier lifestyle?
I am a chiropractor (by trade). I started my real food journey when I was at Uni studying Chiropractic. I had my wisdom teeth out and once I started eating “normally” again, my usual diet of toast for breakfast, crackers and muffins for snacks, sandwiches and pasta for dinner, made me violently ill.
I wasn’t until I was in a nutrition lecture when we were talking about the perils of wheat that I had my lightbulb moment. Maybe all my ailments – headaches, joint pain, stomach upsets, maybe they were all to do with wheat?
So I cut wheat out from my diet and from there on I experimented with my diet until I came to a happy medium and I now Eat like a Cosmopolitan Hippy (also the name of my cookbook).
That was 10 years ago.
Now I have 2 little girls, have sold my chiropractic clinic, written 2 books and am now full time Cosmopolitan Hippy.
What inspired you to start Cosmopolitan Hippy?
I loved my Chiropractic clinic, but I always knew that I could make a bigger impact on the world.
After I had my first daughter, I went back to work, but it wasn’t the same. I felt as if the clinic had really been taken over by my husband (also a Chiropractor) and I needed a new project, something of my very own.
My clients were always asking how I managed to be so healthy, vital and fashionable while running a business and raising a daughter. So I thought I would write it all down.
What resulted was my first book, Cosmopolitan Hippy: A modern girl’s guide to being healthy and fabulous. It’s divided into 3 parts, the stresses of physical, chemical and emotional and I talk about how I manage to minimise these stresses while still having the good things in life. My moto is that is only takes one small step at a time to change your life to a healthier version and it doesn’t mean giving things up, it just means making better choices. Like choosing organic dark chocolate over milk and having one glass of quality red wine instead of a bottle of cheap plonk or buying a few investments pieces for your wardrobe instead of 6 cheap t-shirts.
It’s about balance and being more conscious of the choices we make.
What exciting plans do you have coming up for the summer and 2017?
Only joking, I have babies, I won’t sleep until they leave home.
I’m speaking at Wellness Woman in Sydney with amazing ladies like Vanessa Megan, Lee Holmes and Yvette Lucio. And then next year at the end of April I will be running my second women’s retreat, like a Cosmopolitan Hippy. It’s 3 days where we can just relax and reflect on what we really want. Plus there is awesome food and facials and wine and loads of other fun stuff too. The last one was such a hit I can’t wait to do it again.
Oh and I’m also starting a podcast!
It’s called The F Words: Difficult Conversations. I’ve already recorded a few, but am to chicken to launch it just yet. I’ve been talking to people and having all those tricky conversations that we don’t want to have. Like I talked to a financial planner about why women don’t talk about money and a friend about her brothers suicide and I’m talking to people about sex and I’ve got a guy who is talking about how difficult it was to become a father. All those things that we ignore in polite conversations. But by not talking about them, they hold power over us and hold us back.
What tips would you give to someone who is just starting to make changes to their health and wellness?
Oh gosh, there’s so many places you could start!
But my biggest tip would be to start slowly, be kind to yourself and know that you are making a lasting change for your lifetime, not just a week or two.
So research and read and take the time to pick one thing that resonates with you, maybe it’s drinking a litre of water a day. And commit to that. Then once you have that down, move on to another thing, like eating more green with every meal. Commit to that and once you have that down, pick something else. And so on and so forth. This way you will make lasting change.
And when you fall off the wagon (which we all do) be kind to yourself, realise that you’re human and you make mistakes and then wake up the next day and start again.
Do you have any tips for eating well on a budget?
For us, we have cut down on meat and only eat high quality meat. Meat is expensive, especially when you commit to organic or free range, so using meat as a flavour enhancer and not the main part of your meat helps to make it go further.
Also buying in bulk direct from the farmer. We buy half an animal at a time, they butcher and package it up for us so it’s easy to use. We also use every part of the animal we can. So we buy a whole chicken, not pieces and use the bone to make stock and the meat to make a few meals. I have an online course – 1 chicken, 5 ways, that shows you how to get the most out of one chicken and use it for 5 different meals.
We also try and buy direct from the producer whenever we can. We’re lucky enough to live in Ballarat (country Victoria) and we shop at the farmers markets or the farm gate to get all our organic produce at a fraction of the cost at the supermarket
What healthy dinner options would suggest to someone who is time poor?
You can’t go wrong with soup or roasts.
I often do like a cheats roast dinner or tray bake, where I throw everything into a roasting tray, veggies, spices, coconut oil and meat, and just roast it on high till everything is cooked and crispy. Super easy, healthy and tasty. You can just change up the components and have a different meal every night. I would serve this up 4 times a week at least and no one is the wiser.
The left overs you can blitz up with stock to make soup too.
What is something that you enjoy doing when you have some ‘me’ time?
Every Sunday my husband takes the girl’s out so I can do my Sudoku in the bath with a cup of tea. It’s my happy place.
Also, every month my girlfriends and I meet up for drinks. We are all in the wholefoods space so we get each other. It’s really nice to be just a woman. Not a mum or business owner or wife, but just me. We talk about silly things and drink wine and share what things are on our minds. I love our drinks together.
What is your favourite recipe to cook?
Hmm…tough question. I just like to cook. I love making pancakes on a Sunday morning with my eldest, I love baking and I love creating new recipes, especially reinventing something I’ve eaten or from my childhood.
My favourite of these is my pumpkin curry. It’s so simple and growing up it was my favourite curry. When we moved to Australia, everyone told us to ditch our coconut oil and creams and start cooking with vegetable oils and low fat milk, so I remember this curry being a thin and the flavours very mild. But when I got a hold of my grandmothers cookbook from the 1940’s, I saw the original recipe full of coconut and turmeric. I changed it up a little and fixed the broken English instructions and included the recipe in my cookbook.
Sri Lankan Pumpkin Curry
- 1kg pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks (any pumpkin is fine, my family never took the skin off, but I don’t like pumpkin skin so I remove it.)
- 1 teaspoon salt (Himalayan or Murry river)
- 2 stems of curry leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons seeded mustard (organic and from a jar)
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 green chillies chopped (optional)
- 2 small red onions, diced
- 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 400ml can of coconut cream
- 200ml of water (to keep it vegan) or bone broth
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Combine the pumpkin, salt, mustard and turmeric in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile in a heavy based saucepan heat the coconut oil over a high heat and then add the onions until they begin to colour. Add your garlic, curry leaves, mustard seeds, fenugreek seed and chilli (if using). Fry until the seeds begin to pop.
Now add your pumpkin and toss in the oil and spices. Add your coconut cream and water or broth and cover. Cook until the pumpkin is soft. You can add a little extra water or broth if you think it is a little dry. We usually serve it as part of a bigger meal with other curries, but it is equally good just on its own with rice.
A little more about Leandra and where you can find her.
Chiropractor, author, speaker, award winning entrepreneur and crunchy mummy. Leandra is a busy modern woman who wants it all. Cocktails and green smoothies, yoga mats and heels, Leandra is proud to call herself a feminist and believes that a woman can be anything she wants to be. She is just as comfortable in the kitchen as on stage in front of hundreds. Constantly striving for perfection, but mostly falling short. She never stops learning, or growing. Hungry for knowledge, always wanting the best, respecting her body, nurturing her soul. She is blissed out hippy meets raging party girl. She is The Original Cosmopolitan Hippy.